Jennifer Maggio

Strength in the Midst of Your Biggest Battles

woman with head bowed and handed folded in prayer

On July 16, 2016, I watched 1,000 single moms fill the altar at the National Single Moms Conference. I watched them cry and dance and pour their heart out to God as they experienced his presence. I stood in awe of what God had just done. You see, I had dreamed for almost a decade about a national single mom’s conference and what that would mean in their life, what hope it could potentially give. God did something special in their hearts and lives that weekend, and I am forever grateful. And after it was all over, I just cried.  All the tears I had held for the months and years before the conference were released…and I just cried in gratitude. You know, I wish I could tell you that I just woke up one morning, decided to host a conference, and everyone just happened to show up, but that is not at all how the conference happened.

It wasn’t easy planning the event. And it wasn’t easy experiencing all the things that had happened, years earlier, that gave me the heart for single moms that motivated me to host it.

It wasn’t easy surviving 9-years of sexual assault, severe beatings, an alcoholic father, homelessness, malnourishment, and a myriad of other challenges as a single mom.

And my tomorrow won’t be easy either, as I beat my chest in meetings, behind closed doors, for single moms, in hopes that someone will know how much they need to be served. But you know what?  Tomorrow won’t be easy for you either. Your challenges in your life, your job, your children, your finances, relationships, etc., aren’t easy. Life is a battle. My greatest desire for the women of God is that we learn how to battle well. We learn how to move from strength to strength and glory to glory.

How do you have the strength to move on? How do you have the strength to parent alone for sometimes as much as 20 years? How do you have the strength to step out in faith in any area?

Strength isn’t about your battle today. It’s more about what you do while you’re there.

Strength is quiet, yet mighty. Strength is the ability to let the past go and forgive. Strength is not responding when they lie or gossip about you. Strength is about praising despite the problem…. worshipping despite the worry….. and being faithful despite the fear. Strength is faith. It is Jesus manifested. I’ve learned some things about strength through the years, and I hope these things will help you, as you battle in your own lives: The first one is this:

1. Strength is about pushing through when everything else inside you says quit.

For example, four years ago, my son was 17-years-old.  He had slowly, over the course of several years, become angrier and angrier, with life, with me, with seemingly everything.  He was punching holes in his wall, missing curfew, and failing classes. I prayed, I sought counseling, I fasted, I attended church every time the door was open. Nothing helped. And everything in me wanted to quit, but I didn’t. And there was the time, our ministry had no money, and I couldn’t pay my staff. I was angry at God. How could he call me to ministry and then not provide? All I wanted to do was quit.

But, you see, strength isn’t about quitting.  Nothing about those examples have anything to do with me.  It is about the power of God that rises up on the inside of me that will not allow me to quit. That’s strength. Strength is fighting. Strength in the battle is about pushing through. Strength is fighting when you want to quit. Hell hath no fury like a woman of God who chooses to rise up, pray, praise and press through. That’s strength.

2. Strength is developed through hardship.

We don’t like to hear that, do we? When I see women who can do 50 push-ups or maybe hold the plank position for several minutes, I admire it. But I also recognize that it took some practice. Your strength comes through battles. It comes through learning to battle well and endure and exercise that muscle. Strength isn’t developed on the mountain-top when everything that your foot touches is blessed.  Strength is developed in the valley when all you have is the promise of God, but no evidence of such promise. You’re going to have to go through some things that build your character, strengthen your integrity, and test your faith. Strength is birthed out of desperation. He’s developing strength – deep, in the depths of your soul. And this hardship will be worth it.

3. The strength you possess is about who possesses you. 

Strength is really in understanding how weak you are. This is where most of us get into trouble. We try, in our own strength, to clean up good enough to get into a church and to do this Christian life well. If you are anything like me, you have made plenty of mistakes. And maybe you had a significant life change… and you work really hard to fit in, to be perfect, to measure up…but you can’t do it in your own strength. You will fail, and you will give up. 

The good news is, not by our strength or our might, but by His spirit. Strength is not about doing church well. I can’t do church well another second. Strength is not about legalism and traditionalism and a set of rules that none of us can fully follow anyway. It’s about having an encounter with our King. Strength is understanding the God we belong to set the sun in the sky, the stars in the night and commands the sea with the sounds of His voice.

4. Strength doesn’t always look like we think it should. 

Strength will come in unexpected ways and at unexpected times. Maybe you’ve been praying for days, weeks, even years about a situation, and often you are weary. But all of a sudden, in a day, in a moment, God shows up on the scene and does the miraculous. I am reminded of the story of the dying slave in Luke 7:1-10. The Roman officer sent for Jesus to come to heal his slave. Ultimately, the slave is healed, but he isn’t healed when Jesus prays for him, fasts, lays hands on him, or even sees him. He is healed by the faith of another. That’s strange to me. He didn’t do anything to be healed, except ask, and it didn’t come in the traditional form that maybe I thought it should. But the healing and strength came, nonetheless. Someone reading today just needs to know that God sees you and that he will work things out for your good, in His timing, His way.

When we walk in authority, the authority Jesus paid for us to have, we begin to shift perspective and see ourselves differently. We see ourselves stronger. We see our purposes as bigger. Your strength is about the others in your life -- the lost – the dying -- the broken. Your hurt, your battle, was all for them. 

Is. 41:9-10, “I have called you back from the ends of the earth, saying you are my servant. For I have chosen you and will not throw you away. Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”

Is. 45:5-7, “I am the Lord; there is no other God. I have equipped you for battle, though you don’t even know me, so all the world from east to west will know there is no other God. I am the Lord; there is no other. I create the light and make darkness. I send good times and bad times. I, the Lord, am the one who does the things.”

 Jennifer Maggio is an award-winning author and speaker, whose personal journey through homelessness, abuse, and multiple teen pregnancies is leaving audiences around the globe riveted. At 19, Maggio was pregnant for the fourth time, living in government housing on food stamps and welfare. She shares with great openness, her pain, mistakes, and journey to find hope in Christ. She ultimately became an 11-time Circle of Excellence winner in Corporate America. While a vocal advocate for abstinence, and sustaining today’s marriages,  Maggio recognizes that single parenthood exists and is passionate about seeing these parents thrive. She left her corporate successes behind to launch a global initiative to see single moms living a life of total freedom from financial failures, parenting woes, and emotional issues.  Her passion is contagious, and her story has been used to inspire thousands around the globe. Today, Jennifer works to ensure that no single mom walks alone as the founder of the national profit, The Life of a Single Mom. For more information and resources, visit the website HERE

*** Article first appeared on iBelieve.com. 

Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock/Favor_of_God


Fathers Day As a Single Mom

I recognize that holidays can be a difficult time for anyone, but particularly if you are parenting alone. My hope is to equip you with tools that will encourage you along your journey.

If not careful, Father’s Day for a single mom can be a disaster. What is often a celebration in May on Mother’s Day can become a tragedy in June on Father’s Day, unless we are mindful of our thoughts and actions. Mother’s Day is a celebration of all things, mom. It is a time to focus on the great mothers in our lives – mom, grandmother, sister, friend, or aunt. It is a time to give thanks to God for those precious kids He has blessed us with.

Sadly, Father’s Day can be a time for single moms to focus on lack, e.g., lack of an active father in their children’s lives, lack of what you had hoped would be a forever-marriage, etc. Now, of course, this isn’t all single mothers, but if you do happen to find yourself there today, here are a few tips to encourage you:

Focus on what you do have. Maybe your children do not have an active father in their lives. Do they have a male mentor? A grandfather? A youth group leader? A pastor? A neighbor? Choose to focus on the positive male role models in your children’s lives and honor them. And if there is a shortage of male role models, we can absolutely turn the focus on an amazing Heavenly Father!

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- Your Heavenly Father fills the gap. Maybe Father’s day is hard because you know that you couldn’t possibly fill the role of mom and dad. And frankly, you are exhausted from trying! Know that God is an amazing Father, and He is strong, where we are weak. He can and will fill in the gaps in your home, in your children’s lives, and in your weaknesses.

Don’t discount the value of your child’s father. Okay, so this one is a toughie. Maybe your child’s father isn’t Father of the Year. Maybe you are really struggling with forgiveness because there have been times (maybe many) when your children have been disappointed by a missed visit or broken promise. If their father is in their life, even if the situation isn’t great, choose to honor their father’s position in their life. Your children love their dad, even if he has made some poor choices and disappointed them, and even if they are older and act out! He is part of them. And there is little worse you could do than destroy their father verbally in front of them. Choose the high road, even if the same courtesy hasn’t been given to you. God (and your children) will honor you for it.

Be active today. Maybe your children are with their father today, and you are alone. Do something worthwhile. Invite friends over for a barbecue. Read a good book, that you wouldn’t otherwise have enjoyed with the kiddos there. Clean out a flower bed or rearrange your living room. Don’t sit by and let the day pass you by feeling sorry for yourself. The same can be true if your children aren’t with their dad. Choose to make this day a great one!

 Jennifer Maggio is an award-winning author and speaker, whose personal journey through homelessness, abuse, and multiple teen pregnancies is leaving audiences around the globe riveted. At 19, Maggio was pregnant for the fourth time, living in government housing on food stamps and welfare. She shares with great openness, her pain, mistakes, and journey to find hope in Christ. She ultimately became an 11-time Circle of Excellence winner in Corporate America. While a vocal advocate for abstinence, and sustaining today’s marriages,  Maggio recognizes that single parenthood exists and is passionate about seeing these parents thrive. She left her corporate successes behind to launch a global initiative to see single moms living a life of total freedom from financial failures, parenting woes, and emotional issues.  Her passion is contagious, and her story has been used to inspire thousands around the globe. Today, Jennifer works to ensure that no single mom walks alone as the founder of the national profit, The Life of a Single Mom. For more information and resources, visit the website HERE


Sex and Singles

Yep, I’m going there. There’s no sense in pretending the subject does not exist, so buckle up.

I recently came across a website that INFURIATED me. In fact, that is probably a serious understatement. Since my life’s passion is single moms, I am always researching single parent topics. I happened upon an article regarding sex and singles. I would not dare give you the name of the site, because I will not give them the satisfaction of multiple hits. But here is what the meat of the article said, loosely translated,

“My name is Sally. I am single. I have been for some time. I am also a Christian. I have been for some time. And I am sexually active. I have been for some time. God created sex. Sex is good. And since no normal human being would be able to abstain for any length of time anyway (and God really does not expect us to), I know God will forgive me. I’m going for it, and you should do the same.”

The lengthy article sparked quite the controversy. I almost chimed in with the hundreds of other comments and voiced my outrage but quickly knew that it would fall on deaf ears, and she wrote that article (and many like it) for that exact reason.

80% of the country identifies themselves as Christian, so why is it that none of us talk about this subject? Christians follow God’s written word as their life’s instruction book – The Bible. The Bible is more than clear on its principles regarding sex.

1 Corinthians 6:18 NLT “Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does…” There are dozens and dozens of Scriptures that outline God’s word for how sex is supposed to happen. Sex is good. It IS right. But only within God’s plan for our lives.

This is not new news for most of us. We’ve heard it before. But have you ever wondered why God puts such a difficult “don’t” on our list? Have you ever thought, like the woman above, that this was a ridiculous measure for which no one could ever live up to? That ain’t right how God won’t let us have any fun, huh? Well, let me tell you what “ain’t right”…

- Suicides among teen girls

- Sexually transmitted diseases affect millions

- AIDS is still an incurable disease

- Millions of babies have been killed through abortion because moms cannot afford to or do not see how they could care for them.

- 50% of babies are born outside marriage today, which leads to single parenting. Single parenting among those under 25 is most often associated with lower income rates, and higher high school drop out rates, suicide, depression, and abuse.

Those are the facts. (For exact citations, refer to The Church and the Single Mom by Jennifer Maggio). That does not even broach the subject of giving oneself over sexually to another and how the emotions tie in or the broken hearts that follow.

Let me challenge you with this idea. As a parent, when we tell our 7-year-old not to play in the street, is it because we do not want him to have any fun playing kickball with his friends? Are we just plain ol’ mean parents? No, of course not. It is because we understand the potential danger that our precious seven-year-old could experience, and we want to protect him — EVEN IF HE DOESN’T UNDERSTAND WHY. The same is true for Christians. Our Heavenly Father does not want to hinder joy in our lives, but He does want to protect us from potential harm.

And before you decide that I am some rigid, unbending, beat-you-over-the-head-with-the-Bible, finger-pointing, judgemental Christian, let me stop you. I WAS some of those statistics. I was sexually active at thirteen, pregnant four times by nineteen, and dabbled in sexual promiscuity for years after that, living in poverty, depression, abuse, and more. I have lived it and seen first-hand the devastation it causes.

Today, as I work full-time with single parents, I have seen hundreds of young teens walk through the most difficult seasons of their lives because they did not wait. I’ve seen thousands of single moms struggle emotionally and financially because they did not wait. I’ve seen the trickle effect that this one simple concept (or lack thereof) has had on our economy, emotional well-being, and spiritual growth.

And before my inbox is flooded with countless emails, let me be clear. Everyone has their list of issues they are working on. (I know I sure do). No one thing is greater than the other. I am not saying this is just a single parent problem, obviously, but my passion is for helping the single parent live a better life.

Before you embark on one more meaningless sexual relationship that could very well leave you more emotionally broken, more financially broken, and more spiritually broken, think about its effects and know that there is great freedom in simply waiting for the right one.

 Jennifer Maggio is an award-winning author and speaker, whose personal journey through homelessness, abuse, and multiple teen pregnancies is leaving audiences around the globe riveted. At 19, Maggio was pregnant for the fourth time, living in government housing on food stamps and welfare. She shares with great openness, her pain, mistakes, and journey to find hope in Christ. She ultimately became an 11-time Circle of Excellence winner in Corporate America. While a vocal advocate for abstinence, and sustaining today’s marriages,  Maggio recognizes that single parenthood exists and is passionate about seeing these parents thrive. She left her corporate successes behind to launch a global initiative to see single moms living a life of total freedom from financial failures, parenting woes, and emotional issues.  Her passion is contagious, and her story has been used to inspire thousands around the globe. Today, Jennifer works to ensure that no single mom walks alone as the founder of the national profit, The Life of a Single Mom. For more information and resources, visit the website HERE

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